New Hamilton market could come to former rail freight warehouse

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Abandoned freight storehouse envisioned as place for commerce, arts

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A group of citizens has launched an effort to create a market in Hamilton along the lines of Cincinnati’s Findlay Market or Columbus’ North Market in a former railroad freight house on Maple Avenue.

“That freight house, I’ve sort of been eyeing for at least three years or so,” said Alfred Hall, who hopes to hold a public meeting at Miami University’s Hamilton campus in early February to discuss the plan with people who are interested in seeing redevelopment of the property at 1000 Maple Ave.

“Our thought is (to have) local food or value-added food products in the train depot itself,” Hall said. “It would be very easy to get 11 to 18 vendors in that space,” with sellers such as a meat market, fresh produce, a juice bar, pretzels, ice cream.

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In a 50-foot-by-144-foot warehouse, he envisions a “small black-box theater for community live performances.” The theater could be taken down with that space used for other purposes when the live theater is not in use. He also would like to see a small restaurant, and a commercial “incubator kitchen” where small food producers can concoct foods for sale that they aren’t allowed to create in their homes for commercial purposes.

“The building’s about 300 feet long, not counting the tower,” Hall said. Parts of the building are 17 feet wide, with other parts about 35 feet wide. It is owned by Cohen Brothers, the recycling company, which is helping explore options for the facility’s future, Hall said.

He envisions it being a zero-waste facility, and perhaps half-owned by citizens.

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This is the freight house at 1000 Maple Ave. that some citizens are evaluating whether it can be converted into a market with other features, such as a black-box theater. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF

This is the freight house at 1000 Maple Ave. that some citizens are evaluating whether it can be converted into a market with other features, such as a black-box theater. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
This is the freight house at 1000 Maple Ave. that some citizens are evaluating whether it can be converted into a market with other features, such as a black-box theater. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF

Cindy Meyer, a Ohio State University extension educator in Butler County, is intrigued by the project.

“We have great farmers markets already,” Meyer said, “and another one would be great in terms of ways for producers to market their produce and different commodities. “

“I have lots of questions, I guess, in terms of ensuring we have enough producers at the table,” she added. “But that sounds like a wonderful venture.”

The project likely would cost between $2 million and $3 million, Hall said.

Within about three weeks that the organization’s Facebook page has been up, it has been liked by more than 530 people.

Hall got in touch with organizations at Miami University Hamilton and Miami University Middletown to tap their expertise in creating the public-kickoff meeting. Publicity materials are being created for the meeting. He’s also contacted a firm that specializes in feasibility studies for food-related facilities, with hopes of determining whether the project is do-able, and sustainable.

The building’s advocates have created a Facebook page called “Revitalization of Maple Avenue Railroad Freight House,” which will include information about the the project and the upcoming meeting, Hall said.

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